An abscess is a swollen bump that shows up beneath your skin’s surface. Abscesses occur when a skin injury or hair follicle becomes infected and a pocket of pus forms.
An abscess isn’t usually a cause for concern, but it can be painful and the infection can spread. If you’re dealing with an uncomfortable abscess, you’re probably wondering what you can do to prevent them.
Our team of experts at Smart Clinic Urgent Care offers these effective tips that can help you prevent and minimize your risk of abscesses.
What causes an abscess?
If you have an abscess, it’s likely the result of staphylococcus bacteria infecting a skin wound or injury.
Bacteria can also infect your hair follicles. An ingrown hair is a hair that’s trapped under your skin. This can result in bacteria infecting your hair follicle, causing an abscess.
Although infection is the key cause of an abscess, the abscess itself actually forms because of your immune system.
Once bacterial invaders are detected, your immune system dispatches a battalion of white blood cells to fight the bacteria. As this occurs, some of the surrounding tissue dies. A small pocket forms, creating the perfect spot for pus to form an abscess. The pus consists of white blood cells, dead tissue, and bacteria.
How to prevent an abscess
In most cases, abscesses don’t cause any complications. However, they can be painful, itchy, and unsightly. While you can’t always prevent an abscess, the following tips can help lower your risk of developing one.
Keep your skin healthy and clean
One of the best ways you can prevent an abscess is to take care of your skin. A skin abscess occurs when an infection takes place in your hair follicle, skin injury, or a blocked oil or sweat gland.
You can keep your skin healthy by following these tips:
- Wash your hands regularly
- Properly clean skin injuries, even if they’re minor
- Apply an antibacterial ointment to skin injuries and cover with a bandaid
- Wash your face when you wake up and before bed
- Encourage family members to wash their hands
Another good practice is to avoid touching your face. This can transfer dirt, oil, and bacteria from your hands to your face.
Do not share personal items
Staphylococcus bacteria can rest on the skin and not cause infection. That’s why we recommend not sharing personal items like clothing, razors, and athletic equipment with others. Doing so greatly increases your risk of an abscess.
Be careful when shaving
Shaving is one of the main causes of ingrown hairs. It’s important to shave carefully, especially in the underarm area, as it’s the most common area for an abscess. Always use a clean razor that’s not dull to avoid nicks and cuts.
Treating an abscess
Abscesses usually go away on their own. However, if you have an abscess that’s not going away, is very large, or causes you great pain or a fever, contact us.
Our team specializes in examining, testing, and treating abscesses with a variety of treatment options. Your abscess may need to be drained or you may need medications to fight the infection.
To learn more about abscesses and receive needed treatment, send us a message or call to schedule your appointment today. If you’re worried about a painful abscess, you can always walk into one of our urgent care locations in West Covina and Santa Clarita, California. Telehealth visits are also available.